Date 1878-05-11
Publication Academy
Topic Royal Academy, first notice
AP display
RA display
Subject art
Keywords uninteresting
  ↳ bad RA exhibition
Standards PRB aesthetic standards

Annotation details

78 May 11 Academy


Royal Academy Exhibition May 1878.


Rossetti, William M. "The Royal Academy Exhibition." The Academy (1878): 314. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


This is a withering review of the "uninteresting" Royal Exhibition, which Rossetti cites as the worst in years (see "Notable/Quotable" below). In this essay, Rossetti groups some paintings into categories such as "Sacred Paintings" and "Historic and Poetic Subjects," a grouping technique that has to this date not appeared in any of his Academy reviews beyond the more simple mention of "portraits," "landscapes," and "watercolors" or other similarly wide and generic terms.

Rossetti refers to a work by Millais as the only painting that redeems the group of "Historical and Poetic Subjects," but otherwise seems to find the entire exhibition to be lacking in quality.

Rossetti cites "the rather large number of clever and well-executed works by artists of secondary professional rank" as the "most satisfactory feature" of the exhibition, thereby degrading the work of the more prominent, first-rate artists in the exhibition.

He also corrects a typographical error that inadvertently changed the meaning of his appraisal of Andrew Gow's watercolor in a previous exhibition. The review is longer than his usual and as such allows Rossetti to elaborate on many works, explaining in his standard fashion exactly how particular works function or more typically in this review, why they fall short of his notions of aesthetic authenticity and poetic expression.




"uninteresting", poor quality, expressive failure, substandard

Standards of Judgment:

aesthetic authenticity, poetic expression


Mr. Armitage, Millais, Mr. Wynfield, Mr. Goodall, Mr. Yeames, Mr. Leighton, Mr. Calderon, Sir John Gilbert, Mr. Gow, Mr. Poynter



Writing technique/tone:

critical, disappointed, corrective


"It would be difficult to name an academy exhibition of recent years containing less to engage and fix the attention than that which opened to the public on Monday last;" "All here is done with great refinement; and the simplicity, though not without its spice of artifice, remains within the limits of gracious arts;" ". . . it does not explain itself well and, when explained, does not furnish much material for a picture."